How magnificently our perception transforms upon comparing a woman of fifty years to a man of the same age! How astoundingly the world relinquishes its acknowledgement of a woman as a sentient being and instead, views her as a mere ‘flesh’ that becomes ‘stale’ the moment she crosses a certain threshold of age! Alas, it is solely women who are bestowed with an ‘expiry date’ and are only deemed worthy for “adding glamour” no matter what domain they occupy! Whether it be the cut-throat corporate arena, the shining world of showbiz, or even the sanctity of one’s own home, the narrative remains unchanged.

Tell us that one time you relished a movie scene (Indian) where we see a woman above their 40s romancing a man in his teens or early 20s. But it’s a common sight when the tables are turned!

Let’s hand you one instance: remember the movie, Om Shanti Om? Recall how Bindu was portrayed in the film, trying to romance ‘OM’ aka SRK, and how her character got shadowed as a ‘clown’. And then we see Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Buddha Hoga Tera Baap’ embracing the ‘heroism’ hat, doing the crazy action scenes, flirting with young girls.

Oh, let’s not underestimate the gravity of the issue at hand! We’re discussing much more than physical distinctions between men and women here. It’s all about how we choose to portray and communicate these differences to the world, and this is where the media plays a huge role. It’s an undeniable fact that the majority of people acquire their knowledge and understanding of gender dynamics through the media they consume, whether it’s through movies, TV shows, or social media platforms.

Alas, it’s not a matter of a mere handful of accomplished individuals, such as Ratna Pathak, Neena Gupta and others, to bring about a significant shift. Despite their remarkable contributions to the field, we cannot rely on them alone to bring about the much-needed change. Speaking of Ratna Pathak, we applaud how brilliantly the dilemma of an old woman was showcased in ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ by her! But then again, the backlash she faced can’t go unnoticed!

The woeful reality of mainstream cinema is that the portrayal of women is but a mere ornament, a superficial veneer that relegates them to a subordinate and secondary status. It is a deplorable state of affairs, as it fails to recognize and honour women’s immense talent and potential.

To use women merely as decorative add-ons, to provide some glamour and glitter to the film, is a grave injustice. Women are capable of so much more than that. They deserve to be presented as fully-realized characters with stories and perspectives that capture the essence of their multifaceted and diverse experiences.

Are we doing justice to the female stalwarts of the industry, who once shone as brightly as Amitabh Bachchan during their prime years? As we witness the celebrated actor, now 80, continuing to surge forward with an impressive slate of projects, including Brahmastra, Goodbye, and Jhund, one cannot help but ponder the fate of his female contemporaries.

Are we providing ample opportunities and recognition for these legendary figures to showcase their talent in their later years, or are they unjustly relegated to the shadows of obscurity and neglect? This question warrants our utmost attention, for it lays bare the entrenched inequalities that still afflict the entertainment world and highlights the ongoing struggle for gender parity.

Recently in an interview with The Telegraph, Asha Parekh said, “Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, at this age also, people are writing roles for him. Why aren’t people writing roles for us? We should also be getting some roles which are important to the film. (But) No, that’s not there. Either we are playing mothers, grandmothers, or we are playing sisters. Who’s interested (in such roles)? I’m not interested,”

This reminded us of when Shefali Shah spoke about how being a 28-year-old woman got her limited to ‘motherly roles’ and how she played the role of Akshay Kumar’s mother in the movie ‘Waqt’ at 28, while Khiladi was 32!

We remember Amitabh Bachchan doing ‘Kajra Re’ and ‘Shava Shava’, but can you, being a viewer, even imagine a woman actor of his age doing ‘Kajra Re’? Leave Amitabh Bachchan, someone of Shah Rukh Khan’s age, dancing to Besharam Rang? Getting the forehead furrows? If yes, the problem is rooted deep down there!

In certain spheres, women continue to be portrayed as the “inferior sex,” designated to the roles of subservient spouses or helpless damsels, whose achievements are solely attributed to the prowess of their male counterparts. This notion reminds us of Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece, “A Doll’s House.”

Let us demand more from the films we choose to watch and wholeheartedly endorse those that showcase women in all their magnificence and glory. When we lift up women in the world of cinema, we uplift them in the world at large.


Till then, No Country For Old Women!